helping brides create beautiful weddings without breaking the bank

Source:  alegriphotos.com
Source: alegriphotos.com

Over the years I’ve witnessed a lot of folks spend every penny of their earnings, some of their parents (or other sponsors), and unfortunately, a good bit of their future as well. It’s a practice far too often adopted by couples planning weddings when faced with coming up with large sums of money. How else do people pay for weddings?

In our case, there was a lot of sacrificing and smart maneuvering. We paid all of the costs for our wedding out-of-pocket as a couple and double-downed on our habit of living off of the following adaptation from the Dave Ramsey handbook.

source: nerdfit.tumblr.com
source: nerdfit.tumblr.com

Not many of our friends understood our preference to eat what we’d cooked at home or the level of control we exercised over impulses to buy material items. We didn’t forgo restaurant meals all together, nor did we go without buying everything we wanted…we simply were a bit more discerning in our choices. Nonetheless, both of us developed reputations for seemingly miser-like behavior. I don’t mind it either. Our actions helped us to do more than pay for a wedding. Together, we paid off tons of student loan debt in addition to becoming homeowners.

I can’t tell you what sacrifices to make; everyone’s financial situation is a bit different. But here are a few concrete examples of things we did to make the most of our resources:

  • Stick to a budget. If you set a budget for groceries, keep to it. If you need more room, use manufacturer and store coupons to get more bang for your buck. Food is one place where people overspend and there are no refunds available for buyer’s remorse.
  • Space out must-have services. For instance, without much thinking about it, Sherrod and I both extended the periods in between hair services. Either we put our own hand to our hair or we skipped services all together and it helped keep more money in the bank that ultimately went to bigger payments on student loans or into our wedding savings account.
  • Sell useful items you no longer need. I had tons of items in my home that I no longer needed but were in great condition. Plus, with the merging of our households, I had more leeway to get rid of things I’d ultimately no longer need. I managed to get instant cash by selling things on Craigslist.
  • Wherever possible, buy wedding items that can be repurposed or sold.  Just as recommended above, sell what you don’t need.  After the wedding is over, utilize craigslist or other avenues to recoup your expenses (provided the condition of the items is still good).  We did this with our vases and a few other odds and ends.
  • Utilize credit cards that offer cash bonuses for purchases. We kept cash on hand to pay for all of our purchases, but saw a great opportunity to multiply the reach of our dollar in picking up Chase Sapphire credit cards. At the time we signed up, the credit cards were offering up to $450 cash back for meeting a minimum dollar amount purchase in the first three months and the addition of an authorized user. Initially, I was reluctant. But I couldn’t deny the awesome benefits. We were going to be spending the money anyway and Chase was offering additional points (which are converted to cash back) for dining purchases. So we both signed up, and in one fell swoop, we received over a thousand dollars in cash back by paying the balance on our food and beverage costs which qualified us for additional dining points. The key to really saving is that we paid the credit card bill as soon as the statement was ready (read: no interest charges). I can’t say for certain how much cash back we earned on all of our wedding purchases, but the sum we picked up with Chase was a major boon.
  • Eliminate costs where possible. Neither of us had many expenditures we could reduce. I’d already bitten the bullet and cancelled my gym membership and opted to hit the pavement for running instead. My rent was the only place left to cut. Distance did not permit us to live together, nor would our religious beliefs. With a high-priced long distance move on the horizon, I needed a big way to save and one of my friends graciously agreed to let me crash with her temporarily. I moved out of my place and my friend only allowed me to give her a fraction of what I’d been paying in rent. It was a help to us both and an opportunity to spend time together before I left town.

I think it goes without saying that THE number one budget savvy principle to live by is…to make your money count! It wasn’t easy to do a lot of the things we did, but we made it work for us and we’re happier for it. This list isn’t the most comprehensive breakdown of every cost savings measure at your disposal, but hopefully it’s given you some ideas.

If you have any tips to share, PLEASE leave them in the comments section below!

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About Bianca

I’m Bianca, a Washingtonian transplant from Chicago’s Southside. During the day, I work for the people; after hours, I moonlight as an artist and avid DIYer. On May 10, 2014, I’ll wed my love of 4 years in Atlanta, GA and add a few letters to my list of achievements…M – R – S.

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  • http://www.thebudgetsavvybride.com/author/amber Amber

    I like that you pointed out you should pay your credit card bill immediately. Those bills can snowball really fast (especially if you’re planning a wedding!) Before you know it you’re a couple thousand dollars in credit card debt.
    Groceries are my biggest and trickiest expense right now. My FH and I grew up eating ramen noodles 3 nights a week, so now that we don’t have to we can get a little out of hand at Costco. I think the day of coupons is upon me!

    • http://www.thebudgetsavvybride.com/author/bianca Bianca

      Cosign on the credit card spending! It really can get out of hand quickly. Discipline is so important here. And I think groceries might be a problem area for most folks. I struggle with it as well, but I messed up when I introduced Sherrod to couponing for groceries earlier on. Now, he won’t shop without them…EVER. It’s not all bad though. We eat well only spending a little over $200 a month on groceries. It will take some practice so don’t get discouraged.

  • Dana

    I 100% agree with Dave’s philosophy! I’ve started using his envelope system for budgeting and we can eat quite well (and healthy!) by couponing every month on a $200 grocery budget, too. I haven’t paid out of pocket for shampoos, conditioners, other hair care products, toothpastes, deodorants, soaps, batteries, and a whole list of other household items in several years! That’s savings that really starts adding up after awhile! I never ever pay full price for something, and can’t remember the last time I went to our local mall just to go shopping without a purpose or specific thing I needed in mind. I just don’t temp myself to buy things I don’t need. But, getting into the savings mindset started slow – just learning how to cut coupons, then learning how to pair them with a sale, then mfg coupons + sales + store coupons, and so forth. :)

    • http://www.thebudgetsavvybride.com/author/bianca Bianca

      Being budget savvy is totally a state of mind!